Monday, July 20, 2009

Darren Deicide - 'The Jersey Devil is Here'

It’s amazing what a bad record makes you miss. Darren Deicide’s half-baked attempts at solo blues music on The Jersey Devil is Here makes me think of an old busker in Philadelphia who camps out on 6th and South sts. next to Repo Records (Best store in Philly, ‘cause they’re so dang loveable) and plays Beatles and Jimi Hendrix covers through a dinky 15-watt amp…poorly. I miss him because, in spite of every wrong note he plays and aggressive panhandling attempt he issues, he still knows when to shut the fuck up.

The Jersey Devil is Here, being an inanimate object, doesn’t know how grating it sounds during its 40-minute running time. It is unaware that, in addition to recycling a stage name that’s already taken, vocalist/guitarist Darren Deicide is neither a particularly stirring vocalist nor guitarist. His voice ranges from a dull whisper to a shrill bleat, lacking all of the nuance and emotion associated with the genre. Same goes for his guitar-work. In spite of the fact that it’s mostly just vox ‘n’ electric six-stringer, Jersey Devil’s analog recording quality sounds way too murky. Certain spots even sound slightly digitized and overcompressed.

The poor clarity ruins songs barely worth preserving. The seven-minute title track rambles on and on without direction. “The Cocaine Song” lists the pros and cons of that stuff they use in crack, along with lady troubles. “Hudson River Hangover,” in contrast, deals with drankin’. “The world’s a prison that I can’t escape / People walkin’ by are just distorted shapes,” sings Deicide, adding bad poetry to Jersey Devil’s crimes.

Over the course of nine songs, Jersey Devil shows hints of brilliance, however passing. “The Infidelic Boogie” is fleetingly catchy. “Napalm, Death, and Fire” is hypnotic and demonic in its opening bars. Its low recording quality even feels warranted sporadically throughout. But these successes are minor. Jersey Devil is a blues record for folks who don’t really care much about the blues. It hits the genre clichés – wicked women, Satan, and drugs – and leaves out the really fun and really sad parts. What’s left is a kind of gooey, amoral center where nothing particularly matters. At least at Repo I can hear bad blues versions of songs I actually like.

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